I told you all in my last gardening post that we are trying out mulch gardening after watching the film, Back to Eden.
Last week, I was all ready to buy some mulch to put a layer on top of our beds. I had been out front in our flower bed surveying the old mulch that we are going to remove to make room for new pretty mulch. This stuff has been here for several years and needed to go. The top layers were faded, old, and in large dried out chunks.
As the kids and I were digging out the old stuff, what I found underneath shocked me! It was beautiful dark, rich, decomposed and almost compost-like mulch, just like the kind I was hoping for.
Yippee! Free mulch!
The best part is that is was teeming with big beautiful earthworms. I put my free labor (kids) to work filling up buckets to put in our raised beds out back. Filling up buckets with dirt and compost is like a dream for my kids. They are happiest when covered in dirt. Within 30 minutes we had all of our Spring crops mulched and looking beautiful. We’ll see how the weeds respond.
While we were in this process, a tree trimming/mulching company showed up at our neighbor’s house across the street. My husband took the opportunity to go talk to the guy to see if he had any more mulch to spare. He said that the current stuff he had in his truck had too much brown matter and not enough green for what we were trying to do. He did take our number and said he would call us when he had a decent load. Yay! More free mulch! I think we are planning to either put that mulch in between our beds so we don’t have to mow there or put it in a pile out back so it can break down a bit more before we use it.
Fast forward to this week…
I had been reading. I get in trouble when I read too much. I start to second guess myself when I find contradicting information. Apparently, some people aren’t too big of fans of mulch gardening and putting wood in the dirt and compost because they say it robs the ground of nitrogen.
Huh? What? Oh great!
Just when we thought we had something figured out. We’ve been working on improving the quality of our soil this year in many ways. We added more compost to the beds. We put crushed up eggshells in with the plants we planted. We used hay and mulch to create a “covering” to protect the ground.
When we heard that we could possibly be robbing our ground of nitrogen we felt a bit defeated. My mother-in-law said she used to used to fertilize with blood meal. I know it sounds very weird and gross, but blood meal is essentially dried blood and is an excellent organic fertilizer high in nitrogen. It is also supposed to help keep animals away like deer and rabbits that like to eat all of our hard work.
We’re giving it a go and only time will tell how the soil and plants will respond. I remain hopeful, but we shall see.
A few things we discovered when researching using blood meal in the garden:
- Plants that will love this: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, lettuce
- Do not use with peas, beans and legumes.
- Do not put directly on the plant and not in excess. Too much can burn the plant. Apparently a little goes a long way.
- It is water soluble and can be used as a liquid fertilizer or I’ve seen people sprinkle it on the dirt and then water it. I don’t know if there’s one way that works better.
- Do not apply to seedlings.
- Yellowing leaves on plants can be a sign of nitrogen deficiency and may respond well to blood meal.
It’s all a learning process, isn’t it? Really, every year I learn something new. Some things don’t work, some do. It’s fun while in the process.
Ok, expert gardeners out there! Yes you! Have you used blood meal in your garden or the mulch gardening technique? Any success stories, failures or other information to share? Let’s talk in the comments below!
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